People more likely to use Internet to find an attorney, survey says

May 21, 2014
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Forget the phone book, billboard or even word of mouth referrals. You’re future clients are going to find you based on searching the World Wide Web, according to a recent survey.

We live in a society that is constantly connected thanks to the Internet and expects immediate results – again, in part thanks to the Internet. It makes sense then that a survey by FindLaw.com and Thomson Reuters found that the top choice of people in need of legal representation is to use the Internet to find an attorney.

The Internet gives potential clients a great deal of information – attorney websites, service reviews and any disciplinary history. You can’t get this information from a phone book ad or a TV commercial. And it gives you that information in a very short amount of time.

And while I believe word of mouth is still a great way to find an attorney, what happens if your friend’s cousin is a highly respected family law attorney, but you need a bankruptcy attorney?

The survey found 38 percent of people polled said they would use the Internet to help them find a lawyer; 29 percent said they would ask a friend or relative. Compare those numbers to a 2005 survey, in which only 7 percent said they would use the Internet to find an attorney and a whopping 65 percent reported they would find an attorney through word of mouth. 

Only 4 percent of respondents turn to the phone book these days; 10 percent said they used the phone book to find an attorney in 2005. Today, 10 percent of people polled said they would consult with the local bar association as compared to 13 percent of people surveyed in 2005.

Law firms know that they may land a significant percentage of their clients based on the Internet – that’s why you see so many firms with jazzy Web sites complete with lawyer bios, firm news touting the awards and accomplishments of its attorneys, and blogs and legal articles. In fact, these days, it’s almost looked at as suspect if a company – law firms included – doesn’t have a website.

How much of your business is generated through the Internet? When did you start to see a shift to the Internet being a major driver of clients to your firm?
 

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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